The Johnny Depp Tupac movie
Jon Kopaloff/ Steve.Granitz/ Getty Images
The focus on TIFF is usually centered on the films premiering there, and their Oscar potential, but there’s an active film market going on as well, where movies and the rights to movies—an idea of a movie, really—are for sale. Among the films pre-selling distribution rights, a common way to raise production capital, is Labyrinth, an adaptation of a book about the investigation into the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Johnny Depp will star as Russell Poole, the detective who investigated the murders. So the idea being sold is a procedural about a guy investigating the assassinations of two of the most important figures in hip hop, starring Johnny Depp.
The story itself is intriguing—Poole didn’t solve the murders, but he did uncover massive corruption within the LAPD (what else is new)—and interest in Tupac is ramping up, with the twentieth anniversary of his death looming next week, so Labyrinth will have no shortage of investors. I’m curious to see how fast this project comes together, and what kind of budget it gets, though. The long-awaited Tupac biopic, All Eyez On Me, took five years to get off the ground after bouncing around development hell for years before that. It wrapped earlier this year, though it still doesn’t have a release date, and it got made for a respectable $45 million. Will Johnny Depp pull more than that? (Lainey: does he work for less than $20 million/movie?)
The thing about Tupac Shakur is that he overshadows everything. The sixty seconds he’s on screen in Straight Outta Compton is electric—just recognizing him is enough to commandeer the whole scene. So even a movie about his death carries some of that magnetism. Labyrinth will be the “Johnny Depp Tupac movie”, which is a very odd phrase, not least because, twenty years on, we’ve barely begun to tell each other Tupac stories. Feels strange to almost immediately hone in on a Tupac story about a white guy.